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Kevin: Welcome to Arcadeology, a podcast about video game history and design. I’m Kevin and today we are speaking with industry veteran David Fox about his time at Lucas Film Games, his exploration of immersive entertainment, and his reunion working with his old Lucas Arts crew on Thimbleweed Park.
This will be a two part episode with the first part focusing on the early days of the point-and-click adventure game genre. The games he worked on at Lucas Film include Rescue on Fractalus, Labyrinth, Maniac Mansion, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. And while he was the Director of Operations, the studio produced Monkey Island, Loom, and Secret Weapons of the Luftwaffe.
Without any further ado, let’s get on with the interview. David, thanks for coming on the show.
David: I am happy to be here.
Kevin: Prior to joining Lucasfilm Games, what were you working on?
David: Before Lucasfilm, I was doing a non-profit micro-computer center with my wife. We started the Marin Computer Center in 1977, and we ran it for about five years. After that, we ended up turning it over to the students, the kids who were running it with us, who were volunteering. And we ended up with … Oh, I think by then maybe 40 or so micro-computers, lots of Atari 800s and 400s, and Apple 2s. Our first one was a processor technology Sol-20. Looked very cool, but it didn’t last past a few years.
And during that time, I would get programs from other people, from other companies like Adventure International, and we ended up doing conversions for them, by converting the games to other computers. So like we got the Radio Shack version, the TRS-80 version, and we’d convert it to like an Apple 2. By being in the code, and seeing how they did coding and games, that was kind of my education on game design and game programming.
Kevin: So you were basically creating ports.
David: Yeah, we were porting mostly from Radio Shack to Apple 2 and to CPM. We ended up … Did a couple of books while I was there, and the last one I did was on computer animation, called Computer Animation Primer, and the entire text of the book is online so people can still look at it, but the first half was kind of on overall animation. State of the art at the time, early 80s, ’81, and the second half was how to do animation on your Atari 800. Lots of programs, and combination of mostly using Basic but with some assembly language routines.
And during the research part, I contacted Lucasfilm, which was in my neighborhood coincidentally.
Kevin: Right down the street.
David: Not quite that close, but, yeah, it was in the same county, and they had just started up this new computer division a couple years earlier, so I hung out with them, and got to interview them, and talk about where computer animation was at then, and where it was going, and got some sample clips that I could put in the book. They had a flip book thing where you could flip through the book and in the corners see animated little videos. That was just a nice connection.
About a year later, after I finished the book, I heard from one of our computer center members who actually worked at Industrial Light & Magic that Lucasfilm was starting up this new games group, and I immediately contacted [Ed Kapnall 00:03:48], who was the head of the computer division. He said, “Yep, we just hired the new manager in the group who is starting in a few weeks, and I’ll make sure he contacts you for an interview.” And that’s pretty much what happened. I ended up becoming the third person hired for Lucasfilm Games after Peter Langston, who was the manager, and [Rapoor 00:04:14], who was already in the computer division but transferred over to the games group. That’s how it happened.
And the book that I had, my Computer Animation Primer, I think was one of the things that sold it because it showed that I knew a little bit about animation, but I also knew about the Atari 800, which, again, coincidentally, was going to be the first system we were going to do games on, because Atari had given Lucasfilm a million dollars to help start the games group. It was kind of like if I had thought backwards and planned this all out, I couldn’t have done a better job of doing all the different steps, and just being in the right place, and having the book. Having computer center, where people from Industrial Light & Magic could be members, and that whole part. Everything. So it was cool.
Kevin: It was just a beautiful confluence of events.
David: Yeah, it was all planned, I’m sure.
Kevin: That’s awesome. The first game you did was Rescue on Fractalus, correct?
Kevin: And after that, one of your earliest credits is a video game adaptation of the movie Labyrinth. How did that project come to you?
David: When we first started, when I was working on the first game, Rescue on Fractalus, I had intended it to be a Star Wars game. This is my chance to actually be inside of a Star Wars movie by doing a game in the Star Wars universe. And found out within the first couple days I got there that we weren’t allowed to do Star Wars games because the rights to Star Wars had already been sold to other companies for big bucks. Like Atari for the arcades, and I think Parker Brothers for the home computers, or home video game system. And so we didn’t have the license. It wasn’t available.
They kind of said, “Okay, well, I guess we can’t do games based on Star Wars.” And a couple years later, they were doing … Lucasfilm was producing Labyrinth. It wasn’t the family jewels. It wasn’t [crosstalk 00:06:21], and I guess they felt safe with letting us experiment with trying to turn it into a game. So they basically said, “Hey, would you like to do this?” Steve Arnold, who is now our General Manager, asked some of us if we were interested, and I said, “Sure, it sounds cool.”
We had the script, we had some test video footage on a video tape, and got the idea of what the movie was about, and went from there.
Kevin: That’s neat because how that kind of turned around on itself, in that since Star Wars was untouchable, it was like, oh, well, just play with this. Here you guys go. Try this.
David: Right. And then we got to a brainstorming session in England. A group of us flew out there for a week and met with Douglas Adams, of Hitchhiker’s Guide fame, and he was a friend of Jim Henson’s, who is the director of the film. It was Douglas, and [Christopher Surf 00:07:18], who was a longtime friend of Jim Henson’s, who was a song writer and writer for Children’s Television Workshop, and then on our end it was myself, and Steve Arnold, and [Charlie Kohner 00:07:31], who was the technical lead on the game, and Brenda, who was from Activision, who is our publisher for this.
Kevin: Very cool. So Douglas Adams, he had some input early on in the game’s development from what I’ve read. And what presence, if any, does he have in the final product of the game?
David: I think he had a couple of ideas that definitely made it through. It was his idea to start off as a text adventure, and then open it up into a graphics adventure part way in. I think the analogy was kind of like the Wizard of Oz movie where it starts out in black and white, and when they make it to Oz, everything’s in color. So here we start off in old school text adventure style, which is pretty much most of what adventures were at that time. I think still [crosstalk 00:08:23]
Kevin: The colossal cave adventure type style.
David: Yeah, or even the Infocom adventures were still really popular, and Sierra was also doing graphic adventures, but they were I think at that point … They weren’t that sophisticated. Maybe they had gotten into animation. The first ones they did were basically screen shots with text for the text adventure interface.
So that’s what we did. It was a really short text adventure. I was a little worried that people would start this and think that we had lied about what kind of games we were going to be doing. We had all these pictures of graphic adventures, and then they realized it was really a text adventure, but we tried to keep it as short as possible. And then when you get to this movie theater, and the movie theater happened to be playing Labyrinth, and you end up getting sucked into the movie. And from that point on, you’re in the graphic adventure.
Another one of his ideas had to do with “adumbrate” and this is a spoiler. I won’t even say what it is. There is the word “adumbrate” and it was used on a specific character in the game. I had no idea what the word meant, and it kind of means “foreshadow.” And it’s kind of esoteric, and it’s probably our first “what the fuck” types of things in this game, where people have to do trial and error across everything in order to find it, which is probably not the best way to do that.
Kevin: Yeah. My friend, Phil the Conquistador, he refers to that as moon logic.
David: Yep. I think we called it graphic adventure game logic also.
David: And, you know, later in doing games, when I play games from other companies, and when we do our own, I always really hated it when there was a puzzle where I’d be hitting my head against the computer screen for an hour or two, and then finally give up and try to find what the answer was, and thinking “There’s no way I ever would’ve thought of that.” And to me, that’s an indication of not a great graphic adventure design puzzle. If you say, “Oh, I should’ve thought of that. Of course, it makes total sense,” then it’s on the player. And if it’s like, “I never thought of it,” it’s on the designer.
Kevin: One of the things about Labyrinth was that it didn’t have the straight up parser interface that Sierra was doing. What inspired you to move away from that?
David: We actually were planning to do a parser originally, and we realized … First of all, we were on a really tight schedule, because we had to try to hit the game completion point at the same time the film was coming out. I think we had six months. Six to eight months. We ended up realizing that there’s no way we could end up doing a rich enough text parser to compete with, say, Sierra’s text parsers, or Infocom’s. And so people would immediately think that ours was really stupid, and really bad, and so we said, “Okay, what if we could come up with an alternate interface where we give you the options, and you have to choose from a certain set of options that are all right there?” I think it was my idea to come up with a … I called it a slot machine interface, because you kind of have two wheels of scrolling words for verbs and for objects. You just basically scroll and choose the one you want. That way, all the options are right there, and you have to wonder what you could actually do.
So we all hated the “guess the parser” style of interface, where you were actually typing in “bush” or something and it was supposed to be “shrub,” or vice versa. The programmer had missed a synonym for the word you were using. This totally avoided that, because you knew what the options were.
Kevin: Pretty interesting. I remember actually Ron Gilbert mentioning that in a post mortem for Maniac Mansion. The exact phrase, “Guess the parser.”
David: Right. Right. I think that was probably his phrase. And the Maniac Mansion came after Labyrinth, and I don’t know to what degree Ron was influenced by our UI. He came up with a much simpler way to do it, and more intuitive, because all the words were not only right there, but you could see them all without having the scroll through them, as was the inventory. You do have to scroll through inventory once you get a bunch of them, but it was an easier way to do it. Just much more refined. And that’s of course what we ended up keeping for the next multiple adventure games.
Kevin: Yeah. I mean, that UI or some version of it is I believe until … I guess I want to say Full Throttle? Or Sam and Max? That’s when it really starts fading out the word-based UI, if I recall correctly. But that seems like it was around [Tim Schafer’s 00:13:32] era.
But speaking of Maniac Mansion, when did you get involved in Maniac Mansion?
David: Well, Brian and Gary had already worked out the design, and then Ron spent close to a year working on SCUMM, on the Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion, which was the programming language and the whole system behind it. And I think he first tried … Attempted to code the game directly in 6502 assembly, and that was just … Would take forever. And then he chipped Morningstar, who’s also one of our people in the games group, who did Habitat game, suggested doing … Basically creating an interpreter, so we could write the code in English, and it would compress it into P-code, and then it would be [inaudible 00:14:24] convert that to other platforms, too. And that’s what he ended up doing, but it took him close to a year to write that.
So when he said … I think I had come off of Labyrinth recently, and he said, “Hey, would you be interested in helping me for a month or two on this game? It shouldn’t much longer than that to code it.”
Kevin: Famous last words.
David: Yeah, I know. And I said, “Yeah, that sounds great.” So I came on either … Nothing had been coded yet. He might have had one room up as a test room, so I was basically coding while he was finishing up the system, and creating tools as I was doing it, and so I had a lot of impact on saying, “Hey, I really want something to make this easier. Can we have a shortcut for this?” Or I spent two hours trying to get something to work and realizing it wasn’t my bug, it was in the system. And so it was kind of … That made it take a lot longer because I’m basically coding on a moving target, or something that was maybe pre-beta in terms of it being ready.
But I ended up being on it for maybe six months, and got most of the game done, and then had to go onto my next project, but Ron was left with cleaning up some of the bugs. I don’t know how much longer. Maybe another month or two.
One of the choices that he and Gary made early on was to have multiple kids you could select, and you had to have testing across all the various combinations, which was enormously complex. Way more than just if you had a set number of kids, and you had to make sure that you could win with any combination you chose. So I probably did 70 or 80% of the scripting. I did most of the wiring of the rooms, and a lot of the cut scenes, and Ron did a bunch of them, too. He did some of the writing, some of the more complex ones, or whatever. He might’ve taken those and done those. It’s hard to remember who did what.
I remember spending time working on code that would get one of the characters from their room. Like Weird Ed from his bedroom all the way down to the front door to answer the front door, and trying to do it realistic enough that if you happened to be wandering around the house, and he was on his way down, you’d see him come through the room. So it really felt like there is a space, and really we’re moving through that space rather than just popping him to the target room.
Kevin: As a kid, I think I assumed, “Oh, that makes sense. He would walk through all the rooms,” but later, as an adult, I’m like, “Well …” I think a lot of people, a lot of game designers, would just kind of take that shortcut. Move him from here to here. Just teleport. But to me it makes sense that, oh, I had Bernard out in the hallway, and Ed actually caught him on his way down to the door.
David: Right. Right, and we had to do the same thing with Edna. I think they were the two characters that would wander. Oh, I guess with the tentacles, too.
So it was hard because those were possibly of getting really buggy. I think there are a lot of issues with those. I know with Thimbleweed Park, which I’m skipping ahead … I have a routine that did that also, and that was the source of a whole bunch of issues during testing. Would it remember what was happening when you saved the game? If we restored it, where would the person be? It was more complex, so it was cool to do it, but it sure was a headache.
Kevin: Right. A little overambitious.
David: Yeah. And I think this was the game where Ron kind of invented the word “cut scene.”
Kevin: Yes. Yeah.
David: I don’t know if there were cut scenes before, or if there were, they weren’t called that.
Kevin: Yeah. It’s funny, I’ve actually spent a little bit of time … I was going to do a video on the origin of the cut scene. I spent some time looking into it, and, yeah, from every source I see, the first time the phrase “cut scene” exists is Maniac Mansion because I guess it was in the code. It “cut scene.” I think some earlier examples, people consider those little interstitial animations that would play during, I guess, Ms Pac-Man are considered cut scenes as well, just not as complex. But, yeah, it is an interesting topic. Something that is so ubiquitous now in games is originating from Maniac Mansion. I find that really cool.
David: The fact that we were at a film company probably had something to do with that, because some of us, a bunch of us, were really interested in story-type games. Other than Rescue on Fractalus, that was the only game I did there that had any kind of action. All the rest were graphic adventures. And that felt like my style. I was actually introduced … If you remember, I was doing those conversions of text adventures back at my computer center, so it was kind of a good fit for me.
Kevin: So correct me if I’m wrong. I’ve read that you wrote most of the dialogue in Maniac Mansion.
David: Yeah. I can’t remember. I would say in terms of dialogue that happens when you’re interacting with objects … So it’s less interacting with other people. I probably wrote almost … Like 95% of that. If it’s dialogue in a cut scene, then I don’t know. Maybe 50%, 70%, somewhere in that range with Ron doing the rest. I didn’t know what tone he was looking for, so he had to do a lot of the dialogue in order to establish the voice of the various characters, so it would be what he wanted, and I had to kind of match what he wanted. So that was kind of the way we did it. Because I was coming into something which came out of Gary and Brian’s heads, and wanted to match what they were looking to do, rather than take it off in my direction.
Kevin: I remember hearing somewhere as a kid or a teenager that, originally, when Bernard was referred to as a “tuna head”, it was originally supposed to be “shit head.” Is there any truth to that?
David: That’s probably true, and “tuna head” was definitely Ron’s. I didn’t come up with that phrase. It’s probably likely that he wrote the opening cut scene in the very beginning of that game, and that’s where I think that came in. Right in the very beginning. There’s no way knew [crosstalk 00:21:23]-
Kevin: Nobody could get away with that either.
David: Yeah, right.
Kevin: Except sneaking in the microwavable hamster. Who was responsible for that, by the way?
David: Oh, that was me.
Kevin: That was you?
David: Yeah. There was a hamster, there was a microwave, and I just had this … I was probably wiring up the microwave in the kitchen and said, “Oh, what if …” And I went to Gary without telling Ron, and I said, “Could you please give me a blood animation for the front of the microwave?” I don’t know if I told him what it was for. I might’ve. And then I coded it up, and I brought Ron in there and said, “Okay, try this.” And he did it, and he laughed a lot. I wasn’t sure if he was into it, so it’s kind of more for him. I did it as a joke, and it had to stay in the game.
Kevin: Yeah. Famously, it stayed in the initial batch of the Nintendo version of the game.
Kevin: And that was a whole thing.
David: It’s not game related. It was like an Easter egg, so they caught the stuff that was in a lot of the game, and they did a lot of … There’s a whole great article that [Doug Crockford 00:22:39], who was in charge of the conversion, did describing all the things they had to change in order to meet their standards. Even I think there was a pinup calendar of a mummy.
Kevin: Yes, yes.
David: She’s fully clothed in bandages, but she looked like she might be naked, so that had to go.
Kevin: Yeah. There was a statue in the hallway, if I recall as well.
Kevin: Nintendo was extremely strict back in those days.
David: Yeah. They didn’t mind as much with the violence stuff, so I don’t know if they would’ve minded with the hamster. I don’t know. Maybe they would’ve if they had seen it, but for anything that had a sexual connotation, that’s where they were really killing us on.
Kevin: Zak McKracken, quite possibly my favorite game as a kid, even though I’m not sure I ever beat it until I was older. Where did the ideas for Zak McKracken come from? Because Maniac Mansion, it seemed like it was a pretty straight forward … It’s a send-up of 1950s horror films. Zak McKracken is … It’s so wacky, and I mean that in the best possible way. So what influenced you to design that?
David: Well, I think a couple of things. One, I was really tired of being locked in a mansion, and I wanted to expand out, and have something that felt like much greater territory. So why not the entire planet and Mars? So that was kind of the push, but I was back into this from the 70s, and I was very interested in new age-y kinds of stuff. I believe in a lot of that stuff. I probably still do. I definitely did back then, although it wasn’t something I thought about a whole lot. But the idea of doing a game where I could introduce a bunch of these new age-y concepts in a game without them being heavy, and like trying to beat someone over the head about them was kind of the push.
Steve Arnold, our manager, was also supportive of that whole theme, and he had a friend up in the Seattle area named [David Spangler 00:25:03], who was a spiritualist, and wrote a bunch of books, and was very well known, and he thought that it would be a good idea if I went up there and brainstormed with David on different ways to bring in a whole bunch of these ideas into the game. So that’s what I did for a couple of days. I flew up there. That’s probably where Mount Rainier comes into the game, because it was in David’s backyard essentially, and we just wrote down all the different places of power, or where anything mystical has supposedly happened on Earth, and came up with different ways we could squeeze those in.
David was the one who told me about the first UFO sighting around Mount Rainier in 1947 I think it was. That kind of became the impetus for Zak going out to that area was a combination of story on the 50 year anniversary of that. We put the game into the future, even though we created the game in 1987, ’88. It took place nine years later.
So very much like Labyrinth, I had this list of great ideas, and I had to go back home and figure out how to take all these ideas and put them into a cohesive game. And so I spent the next two or three months working that out and coming up with a story.
I had a design doc that I passed around, as was the custom of what we did at Lucas. We’d usually share our work with other designers and get feedback. And Ron felt that, even though it was intended as a comedy, that it wasn’t funny enough. It wasn’t out there enough. So we had a brainstorm meeting in our division, in our group, with a bunch of the designers to see if we could ratchet it up a notch, and that’s where Zak’s name came. We actually used a phone book, Marin phone book, and first his name was going to be Jason, and Zak and McKracken came out of two separate names in the phone book. That’s where we came up with the title of the game. I knew there were aliens, and they were trying to brainwash you. We came up with Alien Mindbenders by going just on a white board and just coming up with all these things. And then just kind of pushed it.
An idea that Zak originally was going to be a mainstream media reporter, and instead we put him into a tabloid newspaper, where it was all schlock and fake stuff. Fake news.
Kevin: Fake news.
David: Yeah, fake news. And that just pushed it enough into that other direction. I mean, when I went back a year later and looked at the original design doc, everything was there, so nothing really changed in the design. It was just kind of twisting it a bit more to put it into wacky land.
I started working on it and realized this was going to take a long time. I knew how long it takes to code one of these games, so we invited [Matthew Kane 00:28:23], who was already there working on a project in the education group … If he’d like to come in and become a co-designer and scripter with me to help me code the game up. So he came on pretty early, and after the design was done, but before I actually started coding. So very much like my role with Maniac Mansion. He was came in on that stage in Zak.
Of course, even though the game was designed, as with Maniac Mansion, it was designed fairly loosely. I knew what the rooms were, [inaudible 00:28:58]. I knew what the objects were. I knew what the puzzles were. But not any of the dialogue, or the interactions, or a lot of things that come when you actually see the art, and you actually start putting it together.
It’s a long answer to a short question.
Kevin: No, it’s very fascinating. I always loved the game, and I know it has, of all the original Lucasfilm Games graphic adventures, I feel like Zak has always had this cult fascination. But what’s it like to have that cult following, more so than other Lucas games? Because, over the years, I’ve kept tabs. There’s always been fan sequels, and fan remakes, and just people out there wanting more of that specific weird little universe.
David: What’s weird about this … First of all, this, of all the games I’ve done, I’d say this was probably the closest to my personality, my heart, my areas of interest, and so it’s probably my favorite games of the ones I’ve done. If you think about it … And Rescue on Fractalus, yeah, but that was my wanting to be in a Star Wars movie, so that was why I did that. Labyrinth, the story was established. Maniac Mansion was established. And I did Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the story was established. So I was basically in those three games, and using other people’s characters and story to help create a game, whereas Zak, of those games I did there, was probably the only one where it was completely from my imagination. Yeah.
I’ve said this before, I think all of us assumed that these games would have a lifespan of maybe one, or two, or three years, and basically, they’d die when the computers we designed them for became obsolete. So I kind of let go of it. I basically left Lucasfilm after 1992, and did another couple years in gaming. Then kind of went off into other directions for quite awhile, and it wasn’t until I’d say 2004 when I was invited to speak at a couple of conferences in Norway and Finland that I found out that people still not only knew the games, but someone showed me Zak running on his Nokia handheld phone, his mobile phone, in a Commodore 64 emulator on the phone. And this was before smartphones. This was, again, 2004. This is just a phone with a color screen, and it had a little joystick, and you could actually play the game.
So the idea that I totally missed was that, as computers and phones and everything else became more powerful, you could do emulators, and have things run even faster than they did on the original platform. It was how fast the speeds of the CPUs were going.
So when I gave the talks there, I was blown away that everyone knew those games. That they not only knew them, but people came up and asked me to sign their box of them. I think eBay was around then. People were buying these games in pristine condition for hundreds of dollars, or thousands sometimes. And I’m just hitting my hand to the head, like, why didn’t I buy a box of these games back when I could’ve? I had no idea they’d be collector’s items, or that any of the shirts would’ve been collectors’ items. None of that even occurred to me that that would happen. We thought we were doing the equivalent of a black and white silent film, where the projectors would go away, and you wouldn’t have any way to play them. So that was amazing.
Then I heard that people, especially in Germany where most of the fan base, I think, is, that there were multiple fan based sequels that were made based on the game. Whenever I heard about them, I would be honored, give them my blessing. I didn’t want to participate too much because I felt like that would be going a little too far.
This is the 30th anniversary year for Zak, so there’s this guy in Italy named [Daniel Spedani 00:33:45], and I might be mispronouncing it, who has been doing these fan short videos of various video games, and a lot of them are the Lucas adventures. He did one on Zak awhile back, and I guess he’s been getting better and better on them, and he decided to revisit Zak, and do a new one. I guess there’s a small Italian film festival that heard about that, and invited him to screen this video for the premiere at the film festival. Then they decided to reach out to me, and asked me to come out to speak on this afterwards. And I’m going to Italy to give a talk about Zak after we see this video that Daniel is creating. It’s really exciting to do that, and to know that people there actually know about the game. So Italy, too.
So, for some reason, I don’t know … Our games in the United States … Sierra had been doing adventure games for many years before we started, and they had this huge installed base in Europe. I don’t think they ever bothered to either do distribution, or to do translations, and so when we started distributing our graphic adventures in Europe, they kind of filled this gap where there was a hole.
Kevin: That Sierra had left.
David: Sierra hadn’t done yet. So that’s, even now, say with Thimbleweed Park, a huge proportion of people, the backers, were from Europe.
Kevin: Oh, interesting.
David: Yeah, and I know with Zak, the biggest fan base is in Germany. I’m not exactly sure why, if there’s a match with my sense of humor and theirs, or Boris, who did the translation, did a really, really good job, and that helped. A combination of those things. I don’t know, but I’ll take it. It’s really fun.
Kevin: Most people, most gamers I talk to kind of look back on that era … Most of their connection tends to be initially to the Sierra games, and I am strangely the opposite. I never played a single Sierra game in that time period. It was all Lucasfilm games, and eventually Lucas Arts. So I have this weird perspective that is very skewed towards the Lucas games, so that’s fascinating to hear. That’s kind of how Zak spread far and wide is because Sierra never really spent much time on their localization elsewhere.
David: I think we also had this … We set up a kind of a competition with Sierra in our minds. I don’t think they really noticed us that much. There was this frustration that we’d do this new game, and it would sell okay, and they’d do one, and we thought their game was not as good as ours, and they’d sell ten times as many copies in the United States. And this frustration, why aren’t people recognizing our games here?
We ended up doing a softball game with them. The Lucasfilm games team, and the Sierra team. At Skywalker Ranch, there is a softball field, so we did it there, and they totally creamed us, which made it even worse. We invited Ken and Roberta to a screening of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. That’s one thing that they couldn’t do. In my mind, I’m thinking, “Okay, try to top this. We have a big movie that our company is doing.” And we were, at the same time, showing the game at the screening, so we had a separate area.
But we’d see stuff that they were doing, and realize, oh, shit, we now have to up our animations levels. I remember working on Indy, and we saw one of their new games, and it had way more full screen animation that they were doing, and we hadn’t done that yet, so we had to go back and create an animation system where you could do much more complete animations. I think in both and Zak and Maniac, there really weren’t any special case animations. There’s really walking, and turning, and even with Zak falling down, I just rotated him. Had him faced front, left, back, right, and over and over again to kind of fake animation. A lot of it was in your imagination. Now we had to do Indy, with being the plug in the catacombs I guess it was, where you actually see a whole pay-off. We were trying to compete with them, and make sure we were not being left behind.
I’m guessing they never paid any attention to us. It’s kind of like the flea biting the elephant.
Kevin: Right. They had their own things to worry about.
Thanks for listening. Part two will come out in two weeks from today, and in that, we will be discussing the second phase of David’s career. If you’d like to find me on the internet, you can check out my YouTube channel at YouTube.com/Arcadeology, or follow me on Twitter @thearcadeologist. Take care, everyone.
[…] Arcadology (2018): “Interview with David Fox – Part 1 – LucasFilm Games” […]